This is a very difficult section of the Bible. Even the passage in Matthew 5 is easier than this one. Jesus himself, in verse 27, acknowledges that not everyone will be listening to this. As pastors, however, it is important not to just pass over this passage with glib answers that avoid the real issues and problems. This is scripture, and watering it down until we can manage it is not an option. We need to take it seriously, even if it is difficult.
Verse 20: Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. (NIV)
- The beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 are considerably different than the ones here in Luke.
- Matthew adds more spiritual talk to this. “Poor in spirit” instead of just “the poor”, etc. **This is possibly from different texts they based their writings on, or perhaps they just focused on different emphasis from Jesus' original message.
- Luke seems to focus on the physical needs of people, and Matthew focuses on the physical.
- This is a talk directed at Jesus' followers, the disciples. Though it is probably not talking about just the twelve, but all followers.
- This is not a pie in the sky hope. Jesus was probably speaking to specific poor in the crowd, specific oppressed.
- This was designed to help his followers through what they were experiencing and what would happen to them.
- Especially in Luke, the beatitudes are very specific and down to Earth, not many loopholes in them.
- One possible explanation is that Jesus is telling people that heaven will equalize the playing field if we don't see it down here.
- ”Blessed” is a term that meant a lot of things throughout time.
- In Greek, it originally referred to the happiness of the “gods” and was a life beyond cares. It soon became about the internal wellbeing and happiness of someone (TDNT Vol. 4, 361).
- People call someone “blessed” when they mean that someone has a right to be satisfied and happy with some part of their life.
- Blessed is untroubled happiness in Greek usage, often referring to the happiness of the rich (Marshal 248), which is assumed to come from the gods and so is a blessing.
- This is not the normal term for “blessing” (meaning God's acts of showing favor to people). The difference between the one used here and the common one is the common one is referring to God giving us something. This one is talking about having inner joy that comes from what God has done for us with our salvation.
- Anchor Bible says that blessing here is an inner happiness/contentment. It's a condition that comes as a result of something else, ie God in our lives.
- The question is what we take the physical elements of this story to mean.
- Some people have taken these passages to mean that if we are supposed to be persecuted, hated, and poor.
- Other say that this is not a contract. This is Jesus saying that we know our faith is true when we stand up under all of this.
- The assumption of the day was that God had cursed all of these people. Jesus says no, this isn't about being cursed, even the lowest of the low can be blessed when they follow God.
- This world is not all there is to see, more is going on than what we are told about.
- Probably, Jesus is saying that we have gotten the way the world works all wrong. In the end, it's how God prioritizes that matters, not our priorities.
- Most of the verb tenses in this passage are present tense happenings, and then future rewards/punishments. This verse stands out, however, because the kingdom of God is a present tense issue with present tense rewards.
- There is a lot of question about why Jesus said these things, and a lot of theories.
- Because it is true. I know that's simple, but it's still accurate. It's true, and we don't want to hear it, but we need to. So he said it.
- The poor were thought to be hated by God and were hated by people then. The rich ruled everything. Checks and balances hadn't been invented yet.
- Jesus wants to say that the poor and hurting are important and have something that the rich can't take for granted. It's giving value to those that have no value. How much more Christian can you get?
- Some of this is about the persecution the early Church experienced, or even standing up to the Romans.
- ”poor” is someone who is the lowest of the low. This is not someone on government assistance, or living in low income housing, or with a low-paying job. This is someone begging on the streets without anywhere to live at all.
- There actually isn't a verb in “blessed are the poor” in Greek. We add it.
- Future tense in Greek is generally thought to be an undefined aspect. Basically, it doesn't say when it will happen, just that it will.
- The “kingdom of God” mentioned in the first blessing defines and shapes the entire rest of the passage.
- The kingdom of God is a very vague term, but seems to be available now as it is the only reward in the present tense.
Verse 21: Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. (NIV)
- The punishments and rewards are in the future for the most part in this passage. We don't know when, though.
- Some commentators want to say that this all happens after death, but that seems to be missing the point.
- It seems that Jesus is painting a picture of glimpsing another way of looking at the world.
- That is happening right now, we just don't see it, we don't prioritize like that. In that sense, this is not a prophecy or future events, but a new set of priorities.
- There is no indication of time other than after Jesus said it. That could be later in life as well, or even forming now but growing.
- Some commentators want to say that this all happens after death, but that seems to be missing the point.
- The use of “weeping” turning to “laughter” was a common way of talking about oppression in the Bible. So this is probably about being oppressed and God granting freedom.
- The imagery here is present suffering, and because we participate in God's work now we can be happy in that now and look forward to blessings to come.
Verse 22: Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. (NIV)
- It is a generic (usually past) tense for “hate”, “revile”, etc. But the blessing is still present tense. This probably is trying to say (aorist, undefined aspect) that whenever this bad stuff happens, no matter the time, you are blessed.
- People rejecting our “name” are probably rejecting “Christian” or the name of Jesus, not us in particular.
Verse 23: “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. (NIV)
- ”Rejoice” is imperative passive. That means we are commanded to rejoice, but it's being done to us. We are “being rejoiced.” The exact meaning, however, is unclear.
- ”That day” could indicate a specific day is intended here, like the day of judgment.
- The question of course is why the reward? Is it because you have been beat up or because you have followed God? This passage seems to be talking about following God so well that pain doesn't stop you.
Verse 24: “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. (NIV)
- ”Woe” is an odd word.
- Some call it not an expression of anger, but of grief and pain (Lust). Others call it a horrified response (Arndt 591).
- Still others say it is expressing “extreme displeasure” and calling for pain and violence in return for something (Friberg 287).
- “Woe” can also mean “pity” (Marshall 255).
- I think that the joy of “blessed” and the celebration of “blessed” lead to an interpretation of “woe” as being sad for the other and grieving over them, not being angry and seeking vengeance.
- Blessed are the poor, they have the kingdom and only the kingdom. But the rich are in trouble, because their thoughts are divided. They are struggling with serving God and with serving money.
- Poverty is thought to enslave those in it.
- But in Luke, the people enslaved are the rich, because they are enslaved in values, ideals, and motives that are bad.
- There is something else going on that we cannot see. The poor can be freed, the rich are really entrapped.
- Wealth is not the main problem here, but being satisfied with it, relying on it, having it be your treasure is the problem. Letting money satisfy.
Verse 26: Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. (NIV)
- When Jesus is warning us about people speaking well of us like the false prophets in verse 26 he is meaning that the true prophets from God almost no one liked.
- True prophets said stuff that was way too hard to swallow.
- But the false prophets just said whatever anyone wanted to hear, so people liked it. (See 1 Kings 22:7-28 for a classic example.)
- False prophets say what people expect to hear and what goes right along with what the culture says. But they don't say God's word.
- Of course, you can be offensive and not speak God's word either. But if everyone eats it up, that's probably a very large warning sign.
Many commentaries place 39-40 in the later section, and 37-38 in the verses that go before it. There seems to be more of a connection here than most people see. These things are just randomly stuck together. The verses we're looking at here are the transition verses in between the two sections and are tied into both of them.
Verse 37: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (NIV)
- The section before is about giving. Judging and giving are linked. Judging/condemning is giving people bad, or withholding something because of what they have done. But instead of that we are urged to give without skimping on anyone.
- There is no indication whether this will be others not judging us or God not judging us.
- There is of course the possibility that others will give in return, but if Christians struggle with this, we shouldn't expect to get back anything from the world.
- We can count on God giving to us in our judgment and beyond, however.
- It is God acting in response to us. This isn't people doing these things in reply, but God (Green 275).
- ”Judge” is picking someone out, like picking them out in basketball for your team. It can also mean to decide something about someone, especially in a jury type situation. This is also a command, don't do it.
- ”condemn” is handing out punishment based on a decision, and is also a command.
- There is no mention that these people didn't deserve to be condemned or judged. They might deserve it completely. But that isn't our place.
- There is a sequence here. Accusing someone, then giving sentence and punishment. Then comes releasing them, and giving to them of ourselves. This is about grace.
- ”So that you won't be judged” has one of the most emphatic ways of saying “no” in Greek there is.
- This seems to be a promise that there is a judgment and we won't get it. I am not completely sure why it is so emphasized, though. The same emphasis can be found with “condemn”.
- The form of both not being “condemned” and “judged” is in a very specific form (It is second person aorist subjunctive of emphatic negation). What that means is that it is saying that these things will never happen, ever. They are completely denied.
- Forgive can more literally mean release.
- Release others from obligations we place on them, release them from our expectations. Release them from our grasp.
- When we forgive, we set these people free from being bound up in their past and what they messed up with. We are giving them a fresh chance with us, unburdened by what happened and what they owe us.
- It doesn't seem that this means we won't be saved if we don't judge people.
- I think it's saying, “you're a Christian, you've been given grace, act like it.”
- We are relying on God's mercy and forgiveness
Verse 38: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (NIV)
- At first glance, this seems to go against grace, because we appear to be earning this.
- No, we aren't earning our forgiveness. But this is reminding us that we have been given a lot, live like it.
- This is really an expression of grace. We have been given, now give it to others.
- ”Measure” here is a generic term for any unit of measurement.
- The focus is on the equality of the measurement not a specific unit.
- This is just an old way of saying “amount.” The word in Greek is where we get “metric” from and just means a way of measuring, an amount or volume.
- ”Here, measure is about measuring grain. They would measure out the grain into preset measures, but that didn't mean it was all equal. Some would pile it almost up to the lip, never pack it down, etc.
- Packing it down would make the grain settle better and more could fit in the measre.
- So do more than expected, give them more than they were thinking they would get.
- The seller here would actually be wasting grain by letting it spill over the edge. That grain would be wasted.
- ”Poured into our lap,” however, not a wasteful gesture. The people then wore robes that had a fold at the waist, where people would pour grain and carry it. That was their traveling grocery bag (Marshall 267).
Verse 39: He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? (NIV)
- The second half of this passage talks about how we have all tried to change and failed horribly. We can't do it by ourselves.
- If we learn from ourselves only, we won't ever grow.
- If we claim to be guides we had better have our lives together. But no one has their lives together enough not to be blind in some places.
- If we learn from someone who has flaws, we will get those flaws.
- So learn from everyone. Learn from several people, take the best from each and give a piece of yourself to others as well. Think instead of just accepting whatever someone gives you.
- Make sure that we are learning about God and what God wants, not from a single person. God is at work in all of us, but none of us get it perfectly. God gives us the ultimate grace, we give that to others.
Verse 40: A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (NIV)
- The implication is that we need to choose our teacher wisely. In fact, given the previous verses the only teacher that can be considered anything but blind is Jesus.
Message Ideas/Scripts/Liturgy That Use This Chapter
|Seeing in the Dark||20-28||You can be blessed and at peace in this world if you let go and let God lead you.||Light|